Illegal imports of African “bush meat” imperil more than exotic wildlife

The next bloody bag of “mystery meat” from overseas could contain a virus that will ravage our native wildlife population or indeed ravage us-

“Bush meat” is the name euphemistically given for things killed in the (generally African) “bush,” and consumed by hard pressed natives who either don’t care or can’t be choosy about what it is.  It is often monkey, great apes such as chimps, other primates, rodents, leopards, ungulates, you name it.

It is an endangered species issue, but it is more than that.  Primates in particular harbor virruses that are the most likely to jump from their host, where they might be more or less harmless, to humans where they are not. It is almost certain that this is how AIDS (HIV) got started in the human population.

According to the Washington Post, not all of the consumption of bush meat is out of desperation. To some Africans living outside Africa, this meat “tastes like home.” They illegally import it as a delicacy. Many believe that many more resources need to be employed at stopping the slaughter, and even more, the export of this meat.

The entire human race could pay a high price because some won’t give up their “Ebolaburgers.”

Story: CDC expands ‘bush meat’ tests for viruses [and the finds new viruses]. By Brian Vastag, Washington Post.



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  1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Idaho has started a program of boat inspections at its’ borders to stop the introduction of exotic plants and animals from invading Idaho lakes and streams. I think it would be wise to expand these inspections to include any wild or farmed game or game meat brought into Idaho from areas with any exotic diseases like CWD. CWD has been found in more Utah counties and farther north in Canada this year.

  2. CodyCoyote Avatar

    Ain’t just Africa. While sitting in a bamboo and palm thatch ‘ restaurant” on the north end of the big Indonesian island of Sulawesi , I was curious about the menu . It was printed in Bahasa with crude English subheads. Since I hadn’t seen any domestic Water Buffalo in the immediate area ( a fine wholesome meat , by the way ! ) I asked the waitress what kind of meat was in that rice dish.

    She responded ” cat , rat , or bat … ”

    Wasn’t a major American burger chain caught with a sizeable fraction of Kangaroo meat in its alleged Australian beef inventory some years ago ? I can say with certainty that many Big Macs I have eaten in third world countries were not made of beef at all…

    Bush Meat is a huge issue largely hidden from Americans , who eat Factory Meat instead.

  3. Peter Kiermeir Avatar
    Peter Kiermeir

    Bush meat export is indeed a problem. And we are talking about substantial amounts. Literally tons of bushmeat are annually confiscated at Frankfurt Airport only! Ah, by the way, google around a little bit and you´d be surprised what you Americans eat, no, not the africans living amongst you! You just do not call it bush meat (and, to be fair, it does not contain ape or monkey – but maybe only cause sasquatch is such a rarity and escapes management?). I´m not talking about bear, which seems to be fairly common in the US (and a few other countries, like Sweden) or such now established exotics like ostrich or kangaroo. But cat (mountain lion and also African lion) is definitely on your menue, even dog (coyote!). How about snake? You still shy away from rat? Why, there are some fine recipes and reliable suppliers available. One day somebody will come up with a wolf recipe, I´m sure! Traces can already be found on the web but no proof yet. Fine dining USA…..

  4. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    years ago I was on the American Falls reservoir when this large boat comes into the dock at Aberdeen, just overflowing with carp, suckers and Utah chubs. Must have been at least a ton or better. So my dad struck up a conversation and the story went that all these fish will go to the restaurant industry on the coast of Washington and Oregon billed as “white fish” on the menu.

    I have also read that frozen fish that you commonly find in your store freezer section only has one thing in common. That it is some sort of fish, from somewhere.

    1. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      kinda like hot dogs


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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